How To: Essie Snakeskin Nail Polish

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essie snake 6
I’ve never really been a fan of the look of magentic nail polishes, but when I saw that Essie made one that looked like snakeskin, I had to try it. To be completely honest, I found the results a bit disappointing, which was surprising because I am such a huge fan of Essie products. For example, the magnetic effect only worked on a small part of the nail (the middle), and the polish dried so quickly that some of my nails didn’t work at all. I tried doing half of a nail at a time, but that just resulted in a weird design rather than the snake print. 
Before my final try at achieving the snake design, I scoured the internet for tips, but there was surprisingly little help online. So, I set out to figure out the best way to apply the polish/magnet to get the desired effect. I ended up painting my nails three different times with two separate colors. By the third try, I picked up a few tips and tricks, so hopefully you’ll find these helpful if you want to try out the snake effect polish.
Method of Application:
Essie snake 1
Start by painting a thin layer on each nail. The formula is pretty thick and opaque, both on the navy (Snake It Up) and the green (Crocadilly), so a thin coat is sufficient. Let dry for a couple minutes.
essie snake 3
Now comes the tricky part. The polish dries really fast, so you have to work one nail at a time. Paint one nail, then grab the magnet and immediately place it over the nail. Hold it as close to your nail as you can get it without smudging the polish. Hold the magnet there for a count of 20, then move it ever so slightly back and forth to try and get the sides of each nail. Repeat on each nail, one by one.
Troubleshooting tips and tricks:
Essie Snake 2
-The navy blue (Snake it Up) didn’t really work. Like, at all. It’s definitely getting returned to the store. A lady at Target told me she had a similar issue with the navy, but had better luck with the green (Crocadilly). She was right! The green shade worked much better for me, and I thought the color was prettier than the blue.
-Don’t use a base or top coat. I had reservations about this, because the polishes are dark, so I was afraid they would stain my nails. However, the magnet effect didn’t work as well when I used a base coat, and the top coat seemed to blur the snake pattern.
-After every two nails or so, replace the cap on the bottle of polish and shake vigorously. I found the magnet effect to work much better immediately after shaking the polish around.
-If one of your nails doesn’t work, don’t keep adding layers of polish. It won’t help, and then it will just take 4839 hours for that nail to dry and become un-smudgeable. Instead, just use nail polish remover on that one nail, and start fresh.
-If you have reservations about trying it or spending $12 on a bottle of nail polish, make sure you buy it from a store that will allow you to return it after trying it. A cashier at Walgreens once told me they accept returns on opened cosmetics, so long as you have the receipt and you only used it once or twice (i.e. you’re not trying to return an empty bottle of nail polish).
essie snake 4
{Finished product}
Even with the technique of rocking the magnet back and forth, the design will really only be concentrated on the center of your nail. I tried every other method of application I could think of, but nothing produced the design on my entire nail.
If you have any tips/tricks to getting this product to work a little bit better, I’d love to hear them! Share them below in a comment or send me an email at
Thanks for reading!



  • Reply
    April 17, 2015 at 1:20 am

    I’ve found it works pretty well if you apply three coats of polish, and just before the third dries, apply a top coat, then magnet. For some reason the top coat makes the magnet much more effective.

  • Reply
    ellen lo
    July 31, 2014 at 6:05 pm

    thanks for the instructions!

  • Reply
    April 3, 2014 at 2:08 am

    Only worked on half of my thumb (crocadilly)

  • Reply
    Jessica Jolt
    March 3, 2014 at 5:45 am

    I love the dark navy too, but I just tried it out, and scouring for tips I ended up here.

  • Reply
    Kellie M
    February 4, 2014 at 10:01 am

    I have crocodilly and love the colors. It works for me but like you it is focused on the center of the nail. Damn these curved nails. I have a tip but not to you or to consumers…my tip is to nail polish producers…make a magnet that is curved and add a ledge so that we can rest it on our finger and not constantly bump the wet polish. A curved magnet would help to get the edges done without having to move the magnet Not moving the magnet would give a better finished product IMO.

  • Reply
    July 24, 2013 at 3:39 am

    Surprisingly, worked first try! I agree with Amy though multiple coats is a good way to get it done right!

  • Reply
    July 4, 2013 at 2:31 am

    I got the Lil’ Boa Peep and I realized that three coats is the way to go. After the second and using the magnet you would get a faint snake skin look, then I said let me try another coat, then I used the magnet and it looked PERFECT! So anyone having trouble with this try three coats, first one let dry then the second and third back to back then magnet. It worked for me anyways! Good luck!!

  • Reply
    June 19, 2013 at 7:59 pm

    What a waste of time and money. Although, the advice was very helpful

  • Reply
    May 14, 2013 at 10:35 am

    same problem here. very disappointed!

  • Reply
    Parisienne à Vincennes
    March 28, 2013 at 2:21 pm

    Doesn’t work for me either

  • Reply
    March 26, 2013 at 12:50 am

    This so doesn’t work for me either

  • Reply
    emily fitzgerald {once in a blue room}
    January 24, 2013 at 7:16 pm

    this is so cool!

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